Tim Barnes

Considering the Placing of Sound Installations within Brain Activity, an Exhibition by David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery. February 1st 2012.

Brain activity is full of sounds. Most are cast outward from speakers accompanying projected animations. On a second visit and after an initial walk through the spaces I started to record my observations.

The different sounds created a zoning effect in their respective spaces. This acted in providing the experience with a dynamic, spatial sensibility and like the partition walls, they separated and distinguished the spaces. Below is my diagram mapping the gallery's 1st floor and locating the auditory objects produced from their sound sources.


Hayward Gallery first floor


At point 1, it was clear that the corridor housed the convergence of two main sound frontiers, emanating from Headless Drummer and Sleep. Other sound pieces could be heard, but not listened to, thus I was not aesthetically engaged with them. I could clearly detect from this point the drumming and snoring sounds.

This was also the point at which I realised I was moving from sound source to sound source but almost continually immersed in their material, regardless of my movements.

Point 2 was an area where one could best experience the general soundscape of the show. Sounds of Rolling Dice and the occasional crash from Conveyor Belt refracted into this room. As these sounds became more prominent, Sleep faded away. I realised the animation with headphones in this room was well considered due to the room already being saturated with sounds from neighbouring work. Another amplified sound work would have cluttered the soundscape.

At point 3 it was detectable clearly that there was a major overlapping of auditory objects between Conveyor Belt and Dice. Inanimate objects felt somehow involved in this mixture.

I remember the sound piece in the lift on the way up to the 1st floor, point 4 felt very theatrical and direct. Perhaps this is because of the lift, the listener becomes audible and thus the experience is highlighted as a conversational exchange.

From point 5 it was clear that the sounds of Headless Drummer are allowed to dominate the entire first room.

What I felt was most apparent in the show was my movement around the spaces. This seemed to form a sort of sequence of occasions. Experiencing the sound sources was like visiting different holes on a crazy golf course.